Palpitations (being aware of your own heartbeat) are a fairly common occurrence, and most people will be familiar with the sensation. Generally these irregular heartbeats are not a cause for concern, although the sensation of a rapid or skipped heartbeat can be quite distressing.
Although these symptoms are not usually too serious, on occasion it can signify underlying abnormalities of the heart. More sustained palpitations can sometimes be caused by an abnormal electrical circuit in the heart. These symptoms are often self-limiting, lasting for a few moments, but can also be persistent and troublesome.
If your symptoms persist, or last longer than a few minutes, you should seek medical attention for diagnosis and treatment by a heart specialist.
If the papitations are erratic and irregular, this could be a sign of atrial fibrillation, particularly if dizziness and shortness of breath are also present. If the papitations are very fast, but regular, this could be a symptom of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). Other symptoms that may also be present along with rapid heartbeat are chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, breathlessness and fatigue.
Investigations carried out by your cardiologist will vary, and sometimes may be ongoing. If symptoms are sporadic then a resting ECG test may appear normal, so your consultant may recommend that you partake in ambulatory ECG monitoring, where the patient is fitted with a device and goes about daily tasks for a period of time in order to capture the disturbances to the heart rhythm. Investigations into possible underlying causes are also important.
Heart check-ups are imperative to protecting your health by catching any developing heart problems early on before symptoms develop, and most importantly, whilst changes to a person's lifestyle can still make a significant impact.
They can also identify any pre-existing heart disease that may already be present.
Here at Manchester Cardiology Services, we can help identify any potential predispositions you may have to developing heart problems, and give you peace of mind when it comes to your health.